Websites for Dummies (that would be me)


Our website is on my mind lately because we are heading into our 4th annual photo shoot for new images, mostly for use on the website but also for advertising purposes (posters, etc). When I was planning the business, I never questioned the need for a website but I think it is true to say that I now really believe in the importance of a good website including an online shopping cart, at least for a business like mine.

I didn’t know very much about websites back in 2010 but I expected it to be a fairly major investment so I decided to get quotes from several website designers. What I quickly realized is that there is “design” and then there is “programming” and that for a business interested in enabling customers to buy online, unless the shopping cart can be purchased all ready to go, then programming is essential.

With no personal contacts in  the website business, I approached two website design firms which had been recommended to me and one which had been involved with a website I liked. I met with all three of them and gave them the same description of the type of business I was opening (since the work would include the design of the logo) and what I was hoping to have on the website – the ability for customers to pick and choose exactly what cupcakes they wanted – not just a “variety pack” – and buy it online for pick up at the store or delivery.

I learned from this process that for a big investment it really is a good idea to look around because the quotes and feedback you get back are educational all in themselves. Two of the quotes I received were focused strictly on the “design” and then said that the cost of programming the shopping cart was “TBD”. It was at this point that I realized that the two things (design and programming) are separate. I was a little dismayed that these two firms couldn’t be bothered to spend the additional time to give me a quote on the shopping cart…it is not like I was launching a national grocery store. On the other hand,  I was impressed that the one firm took the time to really understand what I wanted from the shopping cart and then seek out a programmer to get a quote from him as to the costs for that online buying aspect. As a small business owner with literally zero revenue in sight for months, it is just not possible (at least for me) to say “sure” to a quote that says a big part of the job will cost “TBD”.

You can guess which firm got the PGB business and we are still working with Varro Creative – Christina’s work now includes all the photography as  well as ongoing revamps to the website some of which is design-focused and others which involve programming such as when we added the Treats of the Week to the Home Page and created a drop down page showing upcoming Treats.

One of my Achilles’ heels is making some decisions too quickly or just needing to get things wrapped up….I think it was because of the money involved in building a website that caused me to go slowly on it and from that experience, I would really recommend a small business owner to take his or her time on researching suppliers and getting quotes for the required work.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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